November 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm
by Christina Tynan-Wood
I first met the new tablet from Microsoft–the Surface (starting at $499)–months ago. It was a secret meeting that began with the signing of documents swearing me to tell no one I had set eyes on this (then) elusive creature. It was as I imagine it would be to meet Batman. It even happened in Gotham (or New York anyway.) Afterwards, I was careful to pretend I was like so many others: someone who believed in the existence of the Batman…er the Surface…but not someone who had met it. I was not even allowed to see it in its bat suit–no one actually turned it on, that would have been sharing too much–but it was clear this was a creature with much potential. I am human. So, as we feeble humans are with anything beautiful and mysterious, I was enthralled.
(I should probably apologize here. I just saw The Dark Knight Rises on IMAX and it has apparently invaded my psyche.)
And then the Surface made its public appearance and I could speak openly of our meeting. And I did.
But two weeks ago, a Surface turned up on my doorstep. And I knew how Catwoman must have felt. Here it was. Real, with a working power switch, within my grasp. I could touch its screen, its apps. We crawled into bed together (to watch movies on the Netflix and Hulu apps.) We went to cafes and stared at each other. We played games. We laughed. We Skyped. (Skype is awesome on it.) We were rarely apart.
And then, as they always do, our honeymoon ended. It would have been marvelous if we could have just stayed like that. But that would have meant a life for me with fewer demands. I needed to get to work. If I still used a task manager like Remember the Milk or Producteev, we very well might have gone on like that for much longer. But I have recently re-embraced Microsoft Outlook for keeping track of emails, tasks, and appointments. And this particular Surface runs the apps-only version of Windows 8. No Outlook.
That’s not to say I couldn’t work on it. Unlike most other tablets I’ve known, the Surface switches from entertainment device to work tool very quickly. And it looks good doing it. Open the keyboard/cover, flip out the kickstand, and it becomes – very nearly – a laptop.
The (optional) keyboards are interchangeable and snap on magic-magnetically when you hover the Surface near one of them. The pretty colored ones are super thin and have a light “touch” keyboard. Much better than any on-screen keyboard for those of us who type as fast as we think. And the blue one perfectly one matches my Nokia Lumia 900 phone (pictured).
If I were one of my kids, me with a lighter workload, or many of my friends who work only lightly on a computer and like to sneak that work in at cafes, in the kitchen, on the couch, this Surface would be all I need. But I need Outlook and everything else my computer has.
This is for the best, really. Because this particular Surface is in here only for review. I have to send it back. I will miss it. But the Surface I really want is due out later this year. The Surface with Windows Pro 8 promises to let me use Outlook and anything else I can do on my computer. But it will drop just as easily into a purse as this one. I can see my future playing out–in some European cafe where no one recognizes us and, eventually, we run into Alfred but none of us says a word–with that Surface.
Christina Tynan-Wood writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle, and is the author of “How to Be a Geek Goddess.” You can find her at GeekGirlfriends.com, as well as here on Momster.com. Follow her on Twitter, @xtinatynanwood.